I Wish People Knew…part 5…by Tess, age 11

Today’s post is from Tess, who came to the US from her birth country, China.

There are no known records of her biological parents.

In lieu of a photo of Tess, here’s an illustration by Luciana Navarro Powell of Adar’s new baby sister, Grace, from our picture book, BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS. I am so thankful for–and impressed by–the extensive research Luciana Navarro Powell did in order to depict Grace’s journey from China with utmost respect and accuracy.

Our guest contributor, Tess, recently celebrated her 11th birthday.

1. I wish people knew…. that I would like to know more about my birth parents and it is hard that I cannot.

2. I wish people would… not judge.

3. I wish people wouldn’t…. look at me oddly when I am with my family.   Everyone looks at me oddly because I don’t look like them.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Tess. What important reminders to all.

As our guest blogger Hannah said in last week’s post: No Adoption Looks the Same:

The world is full of all types of people from different backgrounds and I AM one of those people. We should all try and judge a little less, and accept a little more.

Happy 11th Birthday, dear Tess.

I hope it’s the start of a wonderful year for you! 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from from “E” — age fourteen.      

I Wish People Knew… part 4 “No adoption looks the same.”

I Wish People Knew… by Hannah Wasserman

–continued from an earlier post.

I wish people would realize that not everything is based on a person’s appearance.

More specifically, I wish people knew family has nothing to do with appearance. I have had people think that my brother is my boyfriend and that my sister is my daughter, and yet I look nothing like either of them.

I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot of diversity. I realize that even though I knew I looked different from all my friends, peers, and family I never felt different. I was just a normal teenager trying to get through school; just a normal sister who loved her family immensely and fought with her brother and sister; just a normal girl growing up trying to find her way in life just like everyone else.

College was another story. 

Initially, when suddenly there were other Asian American men and women around–and because I had been so used to being the only Asian person around–my reaction was to feel like everyone else shouldn’t be there; that it was only supposed to be me. (!) Ironically, this is when I began to compare myself with others. I became very aware of how I looked, and how I looked to other people. I know this sounds ridiculous. I hated that I was judging others, but judging them for what…looking like me?

Thankfully, this phase passed. Eventually I became less and less aware of how others looked, and less self conscious about how others might perceive me. The world is full of all types of people from different backgrounds and I AM one of those people. We should all try and judge a little less, and accept a little more.

I have learned that that when people try to understand things that are foreign or different than themselves, in order to make sense of it, they want to put a label on what you are, or what they assume you are.

I want people to know that families today are complex and no family looks the same, no adoption looks the same. People need to realize that there is no right way to be a family.

I wish people would ask more questions. I am a person who is completely happy to talk about my adoption and life experiences with others who are interested. I would rather someone ask me questions, than make assumptions. Asking questions is how we learn about people who are different from us and accept one another. Adoption is more common than you may think and it deserves to be talked about to children and adults.

ps. I LOVE the last sentence in BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS:

“Babies come from love.”

I am incredibly thankful for, and inspired by guest contributors like Hannah who are willing and eager to tell their stories.  Look for more thoughts from Hannah in posts to come. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from Tess– age eleven.   

I Wish People Knew…part 3: a teen shares her thoughts on adoption

I Wish People Knew… by Taylor Kelly-McMahon

I wish people knew that it doesn’t matter why someone is adopted. As long as they have good support from their adopted parents, and are genuinely happy with their surroundings, then nothing else should matter.

I wish people knew not all adopted kids sit around wondering why our birth parents decided to give us up for adoption. Most other people I know who are adopted are very content with their lives, and could not picture it another way.

I know that I am very happy right where I am, and very happy that I was adopted because I doubt that I would know any of the wonderful people I know today. And I definitely wouldn’t be writing this.

 

Thank you so much, Taylor, for sharing your thoughts. I’m so glad you DID write this!

Taylor Kelly-McMahon is a junior in high school. She loves tap dancing and is going to the Oregon Regional Thespian conference this weekend with “Good Mornin’” from SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN which she put together with two other boys–and what a timely tribute coming on the heels of the passing of the wonderful Debbie Reynolds. She is hoping to attend a small Liberal Arts college when she graduates. Future goals include writing for tv, and working in a collaborative atmosphere with other writers. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a second guest post from Hannah, whom you met in part 1 of  I Wish People Knew. 

I Wish People Knew… a mother shares her thoughts on adoption

Illus: Luciana Navarro Powell BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS Kane Miller Books

A Mother’s Response

I wish people knew that the love in your heart is no different whether your family member is adopted or biological.

My mom secretly confided after my child arrived via the airport, that she had been afraid that she wouldn’t love her adopted grandchild as much as her other bio grandchildren.

Within seconds of getting off the airplane she had her new grandchild in her arms beginning a relationship that is still extremely close. And she proudly confided that she was relieved to say that she loves them all the same!!

I wish people would not use the term “real” when asking about my child’s birth family or when asking if I am the “real” mom.*

I wish people would understand that you don’t have to look alike to be a family and not all adopted children want the fact that they may look different from other family members to be the main topic of conversation.  Honestly, I don’t even think about the fact that my child doesn’t look like me.

Many thanks to today’s guest contributor, Kathy, who contacted me after reading Hannah’s post last week. 

*Another mom wrote to say her preferred phrases are

  1. family formed through adoption
  2. birth parents, (mom or dad)
  3. life parents, though there are many other good phrases out there.

She added, “I can’t stand [the terms] real parents, blood sibling or blood parents. My 2 cents!”

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from Taylor. 

I Wish People Knew… a guest post about adoption by Hannah Wasserman

I am honored to welcome Hannah Wasserman, the first guest contributor to this ongoing conversation about adoption. I have known this amazing young woman since she arrived in the US over twenty-five years ago from her birth country, Korea. The opinions in this post are hers. 

I WISH PEOPLE KNEW…   by Hannah Wasserman

I wish people knew…I am just me.

Identity. /// What makes up a person’s identity, their parents, their siblings, their last name, their friends, their place of birth, their personality? How does one define him or herself? Throughout my life I have told people I WAS adopted. But am I “supposed” to say I AM adopted. I have tried not to think about saying AM or WAS and just let whatever word comes out of my mouth first be the one I use. But this has got me thinking lately. Yes I was adopted 28 years ago. I was adopted by two amazing parents. I am Korean-American. In my story I believe that saying was adopted suits me best because it happened in the past. I would not be the woman I am today if I had not been adopted. But today, in the present, I am just me. I am a daughter and a sister, just like anybody else. I share a bond with my brother and sister that any siblings would have.  I think that even sometimes my family “forgets” that I was adopted. I remember one time my dad said “oh yeah when your mom gave birth to you,” meaning my mom and not my biological mom. I had to kindly remind him that mom didn’t give birth to me.

Last names are family history. Stories of where your ancestors came from. My last name is Wasserman. You can only imagine the confused looks I have gotten when I have introduced myself to people and they look at me and then think about my last name.  How can your last name be Wasserman? You’re Asian. Yes I am. Names are important which is why my parents decided to keep my birth name in my name. It is a part of who I am, and really a part of who my family is because this is our story.

I wish people knew that just because I was adopted does not automatically mean that I am going to eventually adopt children as well. This is a question I’ve been asked by other adults.

I have obviously experienced firsthand how amazing and incredible and fortunate and life-changing adoption is. I have no idea where I would be today if it weren’t for my parents. I thank them for choosing me to be their daughter. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it was for my birth mother to make that choice to give up her daughter to another family, complete strangers, without knowing what would happen to her, if she would be loved and cared for and happy. I received all those things and much more. I have realized as I have gotten older that I could have literally ended up anywhere in the world and how different my life would have been if I had stayed in Korea, in foster homes, or if I lived in a completely different part of the world.

Adoption is a beautiful thing. In many cases, it allows a couple to become parents. My parents tell me that they needed me to start our family. My arrival created the family they so dearly wanted to be. Our family continued to grow when 18 months later my brother was born, and 6 years after that my sister was born.

Hannah and her mom.

I wish people knew that not every person who is adopted might feel the need to find/meet their birth family. I have had people ask me this question, usually when I first meet them:

“Don’t you want to meet your “real” family?”

First off, you mean birth family or biological family. Secondly why would I? I know that some adopted children may feel like part of their identity is missing, or that they want or need some sort of connection with their birth family and I completely understand that. However, for me I do not feel like a part of me is missing. Sure as I have gotten older I have noticed some things, personality traits that my brother and sister have that are the same as my parents, that I do not have. Does this make me curious if I have some personality traits as my biological siblings? Sure. But I do not need to, or have the urge to meet my birth family. They are complete strangers to me. Maybe that sounds harsh but for me it’s the truth, they are strangers and not my family.

Thank you for including me in this blog series. I will send more as thoughts come to me.

Thank you, Hannah! I look forward to future posts from you. 

To read about how this blog series about adoption came about see yesterday’s post. If you are interested in being a guest contributor to this series, please use the contact form on my web site, or reply in the comments below. 

Up next Thursday: Guest contributor Kathy, a mom, shares her joys and fears.